The Principles of Effective Family Philanthropy: Accountability

Effective family philanthropy makes a collective commitment to meaningful societal change. It holds itself accountable to impact as defined by community, and to the proven practices that support it. It is adaptive, evolving with the family and the community or ecosystem within which it operates. It shares or cedes power with different family members and generations, as well as staff, communities, and grantees. Learn more about the principle of accountability in the context of family philanthropy here.


Connie Malloy: It’s really our responsibility to show up in partnership and redistribute and redirect the resources that we have available for philanthropy, which honestly otherwise maybe shouldn’t be ours and should actually be in the control of communities.

CC Gardner Gleser: Well, I like to think about the grant making as a return of resources. As to why do some people have a lot of wealth, or wealth, just period, and then other folks don’t. So let’s think about kind of how we got there.

Cathy Cha: You know, as I run a foundation and as I think about the accountability debate out there, I think it’s good for us to press higher and to ask ourselves are we really earning the public trust, are we playing our role in society, and are we really delivering on the kind of results, and solving community problems, and really having the impact that our sector should be having?

Liz Dozier: It is in essence for us being open to not just what we think, but really hearing from people that we serve and trying to serve them well, and in ways that are just, and righteous, and true to what is needed in their communities.

Dave Orr: Well, I’m incredibly lucky that I get to steward this huge pot of money and to try to make change in the world, and I feel just a deep responsibility to do it as well as we possibly can.

Ashley Blanchard: I think at the heart of it all is just remembering constantly that this is a public trust and it’s not our money. And in weaving that into all you do, starting with the donor, starting the minute that that money goes into a 501 and is matched by the public, that it is no longer our money. We are stewards of a set of values of a family, we are stewards of a public trust, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we are constantly asking what are the needs and what can we do about them that we can do uniquely? What assets do we have, both financial and non-financial to try to address issues that we feel are compelling and important.

Connie Malloy: In our case, that trust and accountability, we’re really experimenting with what does it mean to redistribute and reconfigure power, both in terms of how we’re governed internally as a foundation and also who’s making decisions around resources, how grantees sort of self-define what information they want to provide to us.

Liz Dozier: We’re only going to rise and fall together. And that’s, as I think about effective philanthropy, it really is taking less of a look at what I want or what makes me feel good, but rather let’s look at the collective hole and fund there.